Review: Turbo.264 HD Software Edition

Easy to use to convert video files into H.264. (August 4th, 2010)

This handy utility is easy to use and ideal for the novice or the seasoned Mac user. You can convert a variety of files and even edit them from the user-friendly interface.

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Product Manufacturer: Elgato Systems GmbH

Price: $49.95 US

The Good

  • Handles a wide range of video files.
    Slick and user friendly interface.
    Easy to use.
    Handy for directly importing HD camcorder footage.

The Bad

  • Does not convert encrypted DVDs.
    Not much faster than other file conversion software.

If you seek an easy to use video conversion utility to convert a wide range of video files into H.264 to view on your iPad, iPhone, PSP, or gaming console, this could be the app you seek. Initially, I approached this utility from Elgato with some skepticism. Why would you want to spend $49.95 on a utility when much of its functionality can be had in Apple's own QuickTime X, which is built into to Snow Leopard? You would expect it to be faster, right? Ironically, given its title, speed isn't its forte; however, flexibility and ease of use are its strong points.

main screen

Drag and Drop To Convert Files


When I saw that Elgato had released this software, my eyes lit up, as like most people, I don't like to wait for files to be encoded. There are three ways to speed up the encoding process. First, get yourself the fastest hardware you can get - I was using an iMac Core i7 2.8ghz with 8GB RAM for this review. Second, optimize the encoding software for efficiency. And third, add a hardware accelerator, such as Elgato's Turbo.264 HD. Given that I was using a fast Mac, but don't have a hardware accelerator, I hoped that Elgato utilized Snow Leopard's Open GL architecture to tap into the Mac's graphics processor to speed up the encoding process. My tests suggested that this isn't the case.

QuickTime vs. Turbo.264 HD Software

Most of you probably use QuickTime to view video, and may use its file conversion capabilities from time to time. Similar to QuickTime, the Turbo.264 HD software converts a range of video file formats into H.264. It comes with a variety of presets, including two iPod sizes, iPad, Apple TV, YouTube, HD 720p, and HD 1080p. Although I don't have a YouTube account to test, you can use the software to upload the converted file to YouTube automatically.

presets

File Conversion Presets


It also allows you to trim and lightly edit files, plus join files. The file conversion speed of both applications is also about the same, with the turbo.264 HD software slightly outperforming QuickTime. So, turbo it isn't.

main screen

Edit and Trim Window


There are, however, a few compelling reasons to make it warrant your consideration. It is a more flexible utility than QuickTime and handles a very wide range of formats including, AVCHD, AVI, DV, WMV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 Program/Transport Stream, MPEG-4, MP4, M4V, Xvid, and VIDEO_TS among others. Unlike QuickTime, its sole purpose is to make video encoding and exporting easy. In QuickTime, the exporting and encoding features are somewhat hidden, whereas in turbo.264 HD, these features are front and center. This makes it very easy for a novice to convert files for use on a range of devices including the Sony PSP. Converting files for the PSP was always a nuisance, but Turbo.264 HD Software Edition from Elgato makes it a snap.

main screen

Sony PSP Conversion


The feature that sold me is Turbo.264 HD Software Edition's ability to handle and convert unencrypted DVD files in the VIDEO_TS format. The principal application that I usually use is Roxio Toast Titanium for this purpose. So, where Turbo.264 HD initially looked like it did not offer value for money, it does when compared to the $99 entry price for Toast.

Good Solution for the Price

Overall, this handy utility is easy to use and ideal for the novice or the seasoned Mac user. The only let down is that it is not much quicker than other software-based filed conversion utilities. You can download a 30-day trial, but it does leave a watermark and conversions are limited to 3 minutes. If speed is what really matters to you, the $99.95 Turbo.264 HD Hardware accelerator edition, which also includes this software, may be a better bet.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Sanjiv Sathiah


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